Archive for January, 2007

An Interactive Whale Videoconference


Recently a Science Club did a videoconference with a marine biologist in Georgia to learn more about whales. She focused on Gray’s Reef and whales, particularly the right whale that the students hope to see during a trip to Boston. The biologist showed many slides and movies. She explained complex ideas in very simple terms. She used terms such as “momma and baby” that the students could relate to. She divided the program into several different segments,each with new and indepth information about whales. She constantly asked factual questions about the information she was giving or asked questions as an introduction to a new segment. Even when a student was wrong, she very politely rephrased the answer so it would be correct. She gave several opportunities for the students to ask any questions they had about whales. She was very aware of the class to whom she was presenting. Her ability to tell stories about the whales made the content very memorable to the students.

During the whole videoconference, the longest time in which she did not ask questions was eight minutes during the movie and the slide show. Although the students were interested in the movie and slide slide, their interest was not as high as when she asked them questions or allowed them to ask her questions.

The only part that I felt was weak was when she played whale sounds. I wished she had explained the possible purpose of those sounds so that the students did not just think that they were “weird” sounds.

The students’ questions to her showed that they had heard and understood what she had explained. Most often the students’ questions requested a more indepth explanation of something that she had said.

So what great videoconferences have your had? How could you tell that your students learned as a result of the videoconference?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007



Refocus Podcast Rubrics to Assess Academic Standards

Podcast Rubric

I am helping a teacher do some podcasts so I decided to look at some existing podcasting rubrics.

I believe that a rubric should assess student growth on a critical component of an academic standard. I believe that technology is a tool that supports student learning and is not the purpose of student learning.

I found that in ALL of these rubrics the value of standards-based learning was considered equal to voice quality, art work, introduction, etc. Student learning of a critical component of a standard counted for 1/6 or less of the rubric grade.

Let’s refocus the rubrics so that student learning of an academic standard is weighted the most, like 70%, and all other podcast rubric items support that standard. We can re-work it so that all items focus on the standard such as Does the art work help convey the standard? Does the student voice quality help to emphasize key vocabulary in the standard? If we do not refocus the rubric, then we cannot use it to evaluate student standards-based learning. A non-weighted, non-refocused podcast grade means little, if nothing.

Do you use a podcast rubric that focuses on an academic standard? Please share it.


© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Formative Assessments To Improve Student Learning: Technology Assistance

Critical Standard Part and Formative Assessment

Has your district, school, department, or team jointly created the formative assessments that everyone will give on those critical parts of a standard? If you have not done so, use an online blog to discuss ideas before you make the actual decision. Use a computer connected to a Smartboard or LCD so you all see what the changes as you make them. If you all give the same formative assessments, then you can have meaningful discussions about students’ progress and the effectiveness of certain techniques.

The teachers can pool their past assessments and the team can modify these assessments to be focused on the critical aspects of the standard. As the teachers talk about changes to the assessments, the changes can be made for everyone to see when an LCD projection is attached to a computer.

The formative assessments will
– be directly based on the standard (ELA Standard 1)
– assess the critical part of the standard (ELA 1: Information: read a graph and write a persuasive essay using the data)
– assess the critical part in the same way that everyone has agreed on. (Students see a graph about a topic, write the essay, and teachers assess it using the state writing rubric)
– be given frequently during the year
– be returned to the students as soon as possible after the task
– contain feedback comments on how the students can improve on the critical part of the standard
– be monitored for students’ progress by using a spreadsheet or grading program.

So how often do you use formative assessments for critical parts of a standard? How often do students get feedback on their progress in these critical standards parts? How do you use technology to aid you in this process?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Decide on, Teach, and Assess Only the Critical Parts of a Standard

Standard Critical Aspects to Teach and Assess

Many educational researchers have advocated that USA teachers reduce their curriculum to a smaller amount so that the their students learn it in-depth. Robert Marzano in A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works emphasizes that each standard has many levels to it. For example, the New York State English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum has only four standards but within each standard there are a plethora of different parts. ELA 1 has about eight major parts which are to be covered in listening, speaking, reading, and writing or 8 x 4 or 32 parts. No one can teach all of ELA 1.

The following comments will use ELA as an example; please substitute in your subject area.

Has your district, school, department, or team jointly decided which critical parts of ELA Standard 1 your students will learn? What will your students be able to do as a result of learning those critical parts? If each teacher makes her or his own decision, then there is no coherent curriculum.

One technology based technique to aid in selecting the critical parts is to project ELA Standard 1 on a Smartboard and have each teacher vote on which parts he or she feels are the most important. You can “x” out those non-critical aspects so that everyone can see what is left. Certainly, no standards should have ten critical parts. Select only a very few that you can actually teach and realistically assess.

So how many critical aspects of each standard has your team agreed on?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Blog as Eportfolio: Part 2- Blogging Logistics

ELA Eportfolio Links

I would suggest having one blog entry per standard. Within that blog entry for the standard, the students has the paraphrase of the standard, the numerous artifacts or evidence and how each shows the standard, and the reflection on growth.

The students enter the blog eportfolio in reverse so the end of the eportfolio goes in first. The title of the eportfolio goes in as the most recent entry.

The student has an index on the initial page where each part of the eportfolio is listed. The students will go in their blog, find the URL for the blog of the first standard, copy that URL, highlight the first standard in the listing of the standards on the initial page, and hyperlink it. They will repeat this process for each part of the eportfolio. The students will save their changes. Therefore, this initial index page serves as a quick jumping off point to any part of the eportfolio.

If the student has less than ten blog entries which is very probably, then they can simply have the blog list the most recent blogs entries. A reviewer can click from the side listings to navigate through the eportfolio. Another more complex technique is for the students to edit the previous blog entries. They copy the URL of this initial index page, write “index page” at the bottom of each eportfolio part, and link that page to the index. They will re-save each blog entry. Then the reviewer can go from any eportfolio page back to the index page.

If you’ve used a blog as an educational eportfolio based on standards, please share your experiences.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Students Learn More With Similarities/Differences PowerPoints

Similarities Differences in PowerPoint

Robert Marzano in A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works had identified that, of all classroom activities, the students benefit most from finding similarities and differences. When the students find similarites and differences, they are using higher level thinking skills.

So how can we use this to make students’ learning more powerful?

In Social Studies, students can compare two countries in terms of their future potential as a world power in a PowerPoint. The students go beyond just copying facts to looking for the different components of a world power.

In English, students can show how the same theme is in two different works of literature through a PowerPoint. They begin to analyze how each theme is presented in the different works and see the variety of ways of expressing this theme.

In Science, students can compare the health of two streams through a PowerPoint. The ph of one stream is a static fact but when it is compared to the ph of another stream, students begin to generate many questions.

In Math, students can show the similarities and differences between various geometric shapes through PowerPoint. When students put a square next to a rectangle, the differences become apparent.
In languages such as Spanish, students can compare the uses of estar and ser through a PowerPoint. By having to contrast these two, they come to see when each should be used.

Students can use the many features of PowerPoint such as arrows, text blocks, colored fonts, and shapes to accentuate the similarties and differences between two concepts. As they dramatically illustrate the similarities and differences, they demonstrate their higher level thinking.

The students’ PowerPoints are robust learning experiences that maximize their learning since the students compare and contrast.

So what similiarities/differences types of PowerPoints have your students done?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Blog as Eportfolio: Part 1- Basic Eportfolio Structure

ELA Eportfolio Cover

I talked to someone who is interested in having her students put up their academic eportfolio using a blog. I think blogging is an easy technology that can be private and limited to who views it.

I think these eportfolio parts are critical (the structure of the eportfolio):

Title page with basic information

Standard overview to see which standard subparts are addressed in the the eportfolio and the student’s self -rating on these standards.
First Standard
– How the student understands the standard
– Multiple artifacts or evidence to demonstrate the standard and how each artifact demonstrates the standard
– Reflection on each standard (What the student knew, learned, and needs to learn)

Second Standard
– How the student understands the standard
– Multiple artifacts or evidence to demonstrate the standard and how each artifact demonstrates the standard
– Reflection on each standard (What the student knew, learned, and needs to learn)

Continue for each additional state, national or 21s century skill standard

An overall statement that shows how the student sees all the standards combined to produce a good English (Math, Social Studies, Math, etc) student.

Are their other parts of an eportfolio that you feel should be included?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Developing Visual Literacy Skills in the Primary Classroom

The Three Little Pigs

Very young children make choices about what they want to buy based on what the package looks like. They pick library books by the cover.

So how early should we educators begin educating our students in visual literacy and media literacy? As early as possible.

We can have students analyze two book covers and ask them what each tells about the main character. For example, there are numerous versions of The Three Little Pigs, each with a different cover. A search of Google images will reveal many book covers. We can ask questions such as “Who is on each cover? What action are they doing? Are they happy? Where are they?” and ask for the students to point to the part of the cover that answers each question.

We can ask students to predict what will happen next in a picture book based on analyzing the images on the present page. They can identify what in the picture leads them to think a certain thing will happen.

As we read a book to them, we can show them an image of what might be a house or a location from the book and ask them to decide if the house is the same one that they have heard described. They can tell why or why not based on the image. Again, an image search on Google for “Three Little Pigs” + house will show many different houses.

So what other visual literacy activities do you do with primary students? Intermediate students? High School students?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Popularity of Simulations: Why use Simulations in Schools?


In a previous post, I identified some online simulations around the Social Studies topic of nations. Simulations are an extremely hot-growing topic for many people outside of school. The phenomenal growth in Second Life is one example. “Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents.” When I checked the site at ten o’clock on a Saturday morning, there were over 17,000 people on line at that moment. Another very popular simulation is the Sims with all of its expansion packs. There are many thousands that play war simulations such as Gettysburg.

Why do I think that simulations are beneficial in K-12 or college education?

Simulations require a person to think about the complexities of a situation. The Civil War is much more than a list of battles and where these were fought. You have to analyze, synthesize and make decisions as you understand more and more about the situation. In-depth learning is not confined to neat little boxes.

Simulations require a person to think over time and to constantly make change. In Sim2, the situations happen and you have to respond to them. You interact with other people and live with the results of your actions.

Simulations present challenges. You constantly are presented with new challenges and situations that require you to act. You cannot rely on what you did in the past. Often simulations increase in difficulty and complexity.

Simulations are often action based. Talking does not get you very far in a situation although in most classrooms talking is the educational currency. You have to apply your ideas; you have to take action.

Simulations involve 21st century skills such as managing complexity, prioritizing, communicating, creative effective products

Some teachers have used a simulation such as SimCity to help students understand the complexity of creating and maintaining a city. I talked to a teacher who told me that she learned much about the complexity of a city through her students playing the game. Teachers can use a simulation like SimCity in Math, Social Studies, Science, or English classes.

So what simulations have you used in your classroom? What did you notice about students’ engagement and their learning? How did you assess the learning?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Successful technology use measured by student learning on standards-based formative assessment

Standard Techn Infused Learning Formative Assessment

An easy way to measure how well technology helps scaffold the learning experience for students is to do a formative standards-based assessment after the learning experience. If you have told the students what you expected them to learn (what part of the standard) and you provided technology resources such as websites that they used to learn it, then you give them a standards-based formative assessment. If they do well on it (for example, 90% of the students can do it), then, very probably, the technology was beneficial. If they were not successful on the formative assessment (less than 90% could do it),then, very probably, the technology did not scaffold the learning for them.

I feel that the score only counts if you are measuring higher-level thinking skills. If you asked the students to use the Web to find the capitals of seven countries and they learned them, so what? However, if you asked the students to compare the two countries in terms of their future economic growth, then a formative test can assess the standard’s higher level thinking skills.

As educators we should be able to see a cause and effect in our classrooms. We did this or we had the students do this and therefore, the students learned this part of the standard.
So how effective is the technology use in your classroom? How do you know through formative assessments?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Student success in learning not limited by socioeconomics: Model with Technology

Modeling Learning and Technology equals student learning

“A good number of the highest-achieving schools, are.. among the poorest in the state. NAEP gains for minority students in these states (NC, OH and IL) are about three times the gains for US students overall.”

“High-poverty, high minority schools in New York City outperform their counterparts in Los Angeles and Washington DC by two full years.”

“In Texas, black students perform better on the NAEP 8th grae writing assessment than white, nonpoor students in seven other states. In Virginia, Latinos perform better in 4th grade reading than white, nonpoor students in 17 states (Haycock, 2005)”

“Only five years of above-average teaching can eliminate the achievement gap in some states (Kain & Hanushek in Haycock, 2005).”

Schmoker, M. Results Now. (2006). ACSD: Alexandria, VA, 21

Schmoker suggests that these results are based on applying simple good teaching such as Madeline Hunter where the teacher tells the learning standard, models it with examples, checks for initial comprehension, scaffolds students learning, has frequent assessments, monitors and adjusts instruction, and has closure.

A teacher can model the high level of learning through examples through the use of technology. For example, the teacher shows the class an example on a Smartboard and indicates what makes this example a great standard example by circling or underlining parts.

So how do you model the high level of learning with examples through the use of technology?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Classroom Observations Study and student learning

Classroom learning or busy activity

Some sobering statistics based on observations from 1,500 classes in 2005:

Classrooms in which there was evidence of a clear learning objective: 4%

Classrooms in which high-yield strategies were used: .2%

Classrooms in which there was evidence of higher order thinking: 3%

Classrooms in which students were either writing or using rubrics: 0%

Classrooms in which few than one-half of the students were paying attention: 85%

Classrooms in which students were using worksheets (a bad sign): 52%

Classrooms in which non-instructional activities were occurring: 35%

(Learning 24/7. (2005, April 7). Classroom Observation Study. Study presented at the National Conference on Standards and Assessment in Las Vegas, NV as quoted in Schmoker, M. Results Now. (2006). ACSD: Alexandria, VA, 18.)

So what would your score be if your class were observed? How can you use technology to improve your score?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


As a result of my instruction and with technology, students learn

As a result instruction and technology

While looking for Math prep exercises, I came across a lesson plan. The initial phasing impressed me.

As a result of my instruction, when the students are presented with a multiplication problem they will be able to find the answer to the problem with out any teacher assistance and students will answer at least 98 to 95% correctly.”

What if we changed that to “As a result of my instruction and with the use of technology, students will ….”?

How do we scaffold students’ learning so that they are successful in demonstrating the learning? How do we use technology to help them climb the learning ladder to the top?

Do we administer a pre-test via technology?
Do we provide students with pre-requisite background information through the use of technology?
Do we model the learning with technology?
Do we guide students through the learning steps by using technology?
Do we provide them with guided practice through the use of technology?
Do we check for understanding by using technology?
Do we provide independent practice through technology-infused experiences?
Do we provide students with closure through the use of technology?

So how do you use technology to ensure that students will successfully learning the selected standard?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Preparing Students for State Math Benchmarks

Math Resources for Math Test Preparation

Prepared by Harry Tuttle, Jan. 2007

This list is to help those teachers who feel that need to do some last minute preparation for the state Math benchmarks. These sites provide handouts for students, tutorials, online activities, or old state benchmarks.

Math Resource Guide

NYS Math Standards

Math 8 Resources

Math Online – many online activities organized by category

EdInfomatics has old math benchmarks

Elementary Test Prep

Math Magician-Math fact practice for speed

Number patterns

Room 108 Elementary Math – listing of math activities mostly primary

Aplusmath creates worksheets for your students

FunBrain has a collection of online games

NCTM math practice by Pre-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12

CoolMath4Kids has many math tutorials with good examples

CoolMath4Kids also has many math problems organized by topic

NCTM Illuminations has online math activities by grade level

Educatellc’s Bookmarks has many online sites organized by category- scroll down to find the math has many problems organized by grades 1-6.(I think they are more difficult than the grade level given.) The problems are organized by categories.

KidsZone Dare to Compare let’s you select the subject, grade level, and number of questions. Questions are from TIMSS and CivEd

Scholastic’s Max’s Math Adventure has about 20 categories each with an online activity

So what other good Math Review sites do you know of?


© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Assessing technology integration learning experiences for student learning

Standards Bloom Time Line

In a previous post, I offered a way to analyze a technology integration learning experience based on time and Bloom.

I would like to add another dimension, the important element of an academic standard or 21st Century Skill or predetermined school goal, to that grid.

Write down your technology-enhanced learning experience in the first column. Identify the level of the academic Standard in the second based on what is written in the lesson plan for that technology integration experience. Identify the highest level of Bloom in the third. Write down the number of minutes for this project. Multiple the second, third, and fourth columns. Remember that 0 times any number is still 0. If you feel your score is low, think of what you can do to improve the quality of the learning experience and modify it.

For example, for the technology integration learning experience of creating a website about a park, there is a 0 in the Standards since only the task, not the student academic learning, is mentioned. The Bloom’s level will be a 5.5 for creating a website. The time might be 10 hours or 640 minutes. So 0 (Standard) x 5.5 (Bloom) x 640 (Time) = a total score of 0. In a second example, a trip to describe a nature park (English Language Arts 1:Provides information for others) gets a 3 for the Standard, a 4 for Bloom’s Thinking Level for analyzing the park, and takes 40 minutes. The total is 3 (Standard) x 4 (Bloom) x 40 (Time) for a total score of 480.

Standard Bloom Time Assessing

So what is the learning score for the most recent technology-infused learning activity that your students have done? What is the learning score for a future technology-infused learning activity your students will do? How can you modify it to be more of a quality learning technology-infused experience?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Teacher Formative or Summative Feedback to Students During Class

I had the privilege (in retrospective) of taking Miss Johnson’s Latin class in high school. She knew her job was to have us translate from Latin to English. She was on task all the time. She would tell us when an answer was correct. She spent much more time when a sentence translation was not correct. She would go through the translation word by word with the student. She would ask the student probing questions instead of giving the answers. I know realize that she was focused on formative feedback.

What if each teacher either “videotaped” or “audiotaped” a class and then analyzed how many formative statements he or she said during the class? The following chart could easily be a spreadsheet to make the calculations easier and to be able to graph the differences each time. What if each teacher promised to increase his/her formative statements by 20% within three months? Imagine how much formative feedback the students would be receiving on their learning! Imagine how much better the students would be in their learning!


Are you willing to take the formative assessment and improve yourself? Are there ways you can use technology to help you in giving formative feedback to the students?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Improving Student Learning Through PowerPoint: Madeline Hunter Style

For numerous years, I gave a presentation/workshop that had various names: “Improving Student Learning Through PowerPoint”; “Engaging Students Through PowerPoint”; and “Interactive Educational Uses of PowerPoint”. Teachers came for the PowerPoint part but what they really got was a lesson in how to teach in the Madeline Hunter Model through the use of PowerPoint.

I would start each presentation with a show of hands of how many did the various parts of the Hunter model, the number was almost always in the low single digits.

M Hunter and learning

So what is your Madeline Hunter score? What is your Madeline Hunter score for technology use?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Administrative Support for technology integration learning

Administrators can support learning with technology in many ways. The most obvious is money; however, without other forms of support, there will not be a technology culture in the school. Here’s a tool to rate your administrator!

Administrative Support for Technology

(Tuttle, Harry. Learning and Technology Assessments for Administrators, Ithaca, NY: Epilog, 2004)

So in what other ways do your administrator encourage a culture of technology-infused learning in your school?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Enlarging Students’ Vocabulary Through Technology

Vocabulary which doesn’t belong

I’m being doing much work in showing ELA teachers how they can improve their students’ vocabulary through technology. If students do not have a good vocabulary, then they will have difficulty in reading. I’ll give examples using PowerPoint although other technologies can work as well

Each day show a picture of different topical vocabulary such as various fruits and have the students identify the fruits orally or through writing. If you cannot find pictures on Google or Flickr, then check with your Foreign Language or ESL teacher. Another solution is to take your camera to places such as the grocery store.

Have students in pairs talk about an experience such as how horrible the cafeteria food is as they look at a projected cafeteria picture and then have them list all the descriptive words (adjectives) that they used to describe the food. Have them combine their lists with at least three other groups so each group has a bigger list; the bigger group will make sure that everyone understands each word, Then have the pairs describe another picture and use even more descriptive food words. This could become a vocabulary growth game. How many words did they originally use and how many words did they use the second time?

Play “which one of these doesn’t belong” by showing them a list of four vocabulary words such as book, magazine, movie, newspaper and have them explain why. By using PowerPoint slides, you can quickly go through numerous lists. Students can create their own lists within a given vocabulary category.

You may comment that there could be more than one answer such as to the “rose, tree, weed, plant” and I agree. As long as students can give a logical reason, then it’s OK. I prefer lists in which students can think of several possibilities since then they are always looking for other connections. I prefer divergent thinking instead of convergent thinking.

So how else do you improve students’ vocabulary by using technology?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Photo Editing/Manipulating: Picasa vs Gimp in the Classroom

Picasa Gimp Comparision

As a classroom teacher, I would have my students use Picasa for its ease of use. Picasa will automatically search the computer for all images and put them in folders. On the other hand, the students can search for a specific topical image in all the folders such as all pictures saved with “experiment” in the file name or folder. The students can create albums to keep classroom projects organized. They can do “basic” photo editing with ease.

I would have the students use GIMP for text captioning and advanced features such as layers. GIMP which is quite similiar to PhotoShop has so many sophisticated features, that I have just begun to explore them.

What are your classroom experiences with Picasa or GIMP?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Social Studies Nation Simulations: Engage Students in Complexity

Cyer Nations simulation

When students do simulations, they are engaged in learning about the many interwoven complexities of a situation such as creating a new nation. They apply concepts, see the ramification of their decisions; and make more decisions; they do not memorize information. They find out that real world events are not simple straight lines but involve many diverse turns.

CyperNations is a “free nation simulation game. Create a nation anywhere in the world and decide how you will rule your people by choosing a government type, a national religion, ethnicity, tax rate, currency type, and more in this new geo-political, nation, and government simulator. There are no fees associated with Cyber Nations, no credits or upgrades to buy, no gimmicks, just a fun place to hang out and rule your nation.”


Nations States is a free nation simulation game. “Build a nation and run it according to your own warped political ideals. Create a Utopian paradise for society’s less fortunate or a totalitarian corporate police state. Care for your people or deliberately oppress them. Join the United Nations or remain a rogue state. It’s really up to you.” Its educational page tells about the use in education.

Welcome to GotNation. “What you find here is a socio-economic political simulation that places you at the reins of government. You control the various factors that most governments control (things like government spending and budget, tax rates, prime rates, etc.), you can adjust your government’s settings and see what the result will be for your population in terms of happiness, rights, freedoms, GDP, etc. There is no optimal solution, success or failure is up to you to determine.”

Welcome to Qpawn. “This is a world simulation where people can join up as the nation of their choice and perform the foreign, economic, military, and political policies that they wish. If you wish to join then enter the “Join” link, read the rules and fill out the form given to you. Qpawn is free. There are no financial charges or fees.”

What simulations (be they computer based or paper and pencil based) have you used in your classrooms to engage students in a virtual nation with all of its complexities?

If you know of any simulations for creating a new nation that has a high amount of structure, please let me know since a team is looking for one for a one week interdisciplinary unit. Thanks.


© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Educational Eportfolios(OSP): Students Successfully Structure Their Own Learning


The School of Education pre-service students presented their eportfolios. Overall, their presentations seemed very professional and certainly showed the students’ progress in the school’s proficiencies. We used Open Source Portfolio (OSP with some modifications thanks to two great programmers (Sean and Huan). The students saw the proficiencies on the left, their text & artifacts in the center, and thumbnails of their artifacts on the right. They could click to get a bigger image and more information on the artifacts. Their presentation flowed from proficiency to proficiency.

Students seemed to have a better sense of what each proficiency meant than in the past. I’m not sure if it is because we have had the same proficiencies for a while or rather their instructors have emphasized the proficiencies more. Likewise, all students used examples from their K-12 students to demonstrate each proficiency. Their talk was teacher talk with statements like “My students put different M&Ms (blue M&Ms for water; brown for mountains) on the cookie to show the geography of New York State. I assessed them ….” One student talked about her philosophy of education as constructivism and then gave several visual examples in each proficiency to demonstrate it.

The students should be very proud of their progress and achievement of the proficiencies. They used OSP to organize and present the information for each proficiency.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


State Reading Summative Benchmark Panic: Why panic if we do formative assessment all year?

ELA panic or formative assessment

Whenever I talk to elementary and middle school teachers, I hear wait until the state ELA is over. Teachers are preparing students like crazy. Panic is felt in the elementary and middle schools.


The panic tells me that teachers are not fomative in their usual classroom reading activities and assessment. If they were assessing students all year on the required reading skills from the state assessment, they would not have to prepare students at the last minute. If the teachers had montored and adjusted instruction during the year, then their students would be prepared. Yes, teachers do need to give students the testing taking strategies for this particular assessment but that will only take a few minutes.

Avoid panic and incorporate formative assessments during the year. These assessments will mirror the state assessments. Incorporate learning peace into your classroom instead of panic.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Making your classroom standards-based learning: Write it out for them

Arrow to Target of Standard

I have a simple yet very effective way to make your classroom standards based. Before you do an activity in class, write out the standard for the students. Do not write the general standard category such as “ELA Standard 3” but write the general category and then the specific subpart such as “ELA Standard 3: Critical Analysis: Compare two works of literature in an essay” If you give the students a handout, have the standard listed on it. If you give them homework, write out the standard and have them copy it down (or have it available on your website/blog). Every project will contain the appropriate standard.

You can easily keep track of which standards you are covering by creating a Word chart or a spreadsheet. A quick glance at the chart/spreadsheet will tell you which you have covered so far. If you include a category for the class assessment on each subpart of the standard, then you can tell which areas need more attention and which have been “mastered”.

I find that if I am struggling to identify the standard for a future project, usually the project is not standards-based. I modify the activity to really be standards-based instead of somewhat standards-based. Likewise, if I find myself trying to assign several standards to the same activity, I stop and ask myself “What is the purpose of this activity? and “What am I going to assess?” If I don’t assess it, then it is not a critical standard for this activity. I find I often try to deceive myself into thinking I am do multiple standards, when, in fact, I am only do one.

So how do you make your class standards-based- be it academic standards or 21st century skills?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Web-based Reading: Listen to it and Read it if you can

Ear maybe to the speaking

A primary teacher showed me a web-based program that reads a story to a student. Then the student records his/her own reading of each page of the story and then the program plays it back.

The teacher thought it was wonderful. She was so pleased that each student could record his/her own reading. I disagreed.

It is wonderful that a student can hear a story. However, after the student records his/her voice, there is no correction. The student can read “in a house” and say “in a hose”. The only way for the teacher to ascertain how well the student reads is to listen to each story of each student while the teacher reads the story book. That is a very time consuming task.

I know that the listening and repeating technique is not always effective. Please don’t ask me to speak the Italian I thought I had learned from “listen and repeat” tapes.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

Taking it Global -A Worldwide Collaboration for Your Students


If you want your students to be global citizens, then you might want to make them familiar with TakingITGlobal. is an online community that connects youth to find inspiration, access information, get involved, and take action in their local and global communities. It is now the world’s most popular online community for young people interested in making a difference, with hundreds of thousands of unique visitors each month.”

Your students can research topics to see the views of youth around the world (Understand Issues tab). They can use the Explore the World tab to learn information about specific countries.

There is now a teacher’s classroom version where you can create a class section where your class can collaborate with other students from around the world.

Let’s take it global so our students are 21st century students and not locked into the walls of the classroom.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


No more Technology Integration Teachers: Need Learning Specialists Instead

Learn Hardware or Learn Subject Area

This year I am helping to improve student learning through technology in a city school district. My emphasis is on improving student learning. However, when I go to schools, I often hear

“My printer does not work.”

“You can teach us a technology.”

“What application do you want to teach them?”

“Let’s give them a workshop on PowerPoint”

“When will you come in my classroom and teach my kids how to use digital cameras?”

Unfortuately, for many teachers “technology integration” refers more to the mechanics of technology than improving students learning through technology.

I propose that we get rid of the term “technology integration teacher”and”computer lab teacher” and replace them with the more meaningful terms of “learning specialists” or “literacy specialists” (thanks to Andy Y. and Roger S. from the Ithaca City School District for the literacy focus).

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Why is there bad Spanish translation on packages? Let’s learn to communicate globally


My son and I read Spanish on packages to see how skillful the translation is. We are always shocked by gross grammar errors, spectular spelling mistakes, and wrong word use. Sometimes the meaning is completely different.

I wonder how there can be so many errors in just one product description. A few sample errors from one product: “Soporta caidas y abolla duras”, “Cpuede trabajar” and “de alta o bajas temperraturas” Google’s Translator and AltaVista Babel Fish are two of the many translation programs on the Net. Itried some phrases using BabelFish and they came out much better than the product description.

How can we claim to be preparing students for a global world when our USA students have such a low degree of fluency in even one language?

How can other nations expect to compete in the global market if these nations cannot translate English into Spanish for bilingual packaging?

Let’s teach Spanish the way that people speak it so our students can use their new language. Let’s use technology such as videoconferencing to have our students have real conversations with Spanish speaking people so that they can be fluent in Spanish! Or we can Skype people in Spanish speaking countries so students interact and speak globally!

Can your students communicate in another language to be more global?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Skype Video Conferencing: Home Use to School Possibilities

Skype logo

I finally used Skype. I gave both my sons webcams and headphone mikes for the Christmas. One son is about 500 miles away so he does not get home much. We had no trouble connecting. He found out that he had to get the camera working first, restart Skype and then we could see each other. The joy of seeing him with all his facial expressions was heart warming. He got to show us the “computer room” by panning his webcam and to show us his new “toys” by holding them up to the camera.
The sound was quite good and the video quality of the camera was OK (a little grainy and quick movement became a slur on the screen). It reminded me of the early days of CUSeeme but with much better quality.

I thought of some possibilities for Skype in school:

-Shadowing a professional as she/he works

-Talking with people in labs, research centers, art studios, museums, “on location”

-Watching an expert do something or explain something (Your neighbor who does composting can explain it to the class and show her compost to them.)

-Class to class collaborative videoconferencing (not having to bring a big videoconferencing unit in the class and not having to go to the videoconferencing room is a big plus.) in all subject aeas.

-Conversing in the second language to people from that language area

– Watching an event such as a school play, a poetry jam, science demonstration (egg drop), etc.

– Another teacher from another district can help you co-teach your class since that teacher is an expert in the topic your students are doing.
-Mentor (A master teacher can watch your class and then give suggestions)

Skype presents a great example of bringing the world into our classroom and going into the world with our classroom. Did I mention it was free!!!!

So how have you used Skype in your school or what things would you like to do in your school with Skype?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


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